Nearly 20 people gathered for a meeting at Canby's City Hall on July 11 to discuss the ways and means of revitalizing Canby's downtown. Business owners joined Jamie Stickel, the city's economic development director, Calvin LeSueur, economic development and tourism coordinator, Kyle Lang, Chamber of Commerce director and others.
They also met with consultant Michele Reeves, who has contracted with the city to provide the tools to help rejuvenate Canby's downtown. Reeves worked with the city previously in 2016. She is from Civilis Consulting.
"We take a market-driven approach to civic renewal. We focus first on connecting stakeholders in the community — particularly those who control businesses, buildings and land use because they drive the engine of change. Forging these relationships and understanding a place's complete ecosystem are what allow us to facilitate economically successful development projects and revitalization programs," according to the Civilis Consulting website.
"It's our job as a community to use the tools she gives us to revitalize downtown," said Stickel.
This meeting was the first in a series for business and property owners to meet with those from the public sector to turn Canby's downtown into a "happening place."
Reeves noted there are three tool kits she plans to suggest the city use—property owners, business owners and the public sector. The latter tool kit includes city staff, the Chamber of Commerce and even Clackamas County's development sector.
The people at the meeting included a mix of businesses, but by far the most came from insurance, public relations, realtors and other service providers. There was a retail business owner as well as the owner of the Canby Chapel for entertainment, but restauranteurs and other retailers were absent.
While everyone noted there were lots of reasons and events to get people downtown, especially during weekends in the summer, Canby needs more stores, finer dining restaurants and that hotel that was discussed last year, to keep people downtown.
The consensus is that Canby's downtown has a few good restaurants, a great coffee shop and several stores that people visit, but it's not extensive and a visit to one store doesn't necessary push shoppers to go on to others.
But the switch from first Friday to first Thursday appears to be garnering new people coming to see what's going on downtown.
There's a perceived problem that parking is hard in downtown. Reeves indicated that isn't quite true, and Lang thinks it would be a good idea to have a CAT bus take people parking at the fairgrounds into downtown and back. Reeves liked the idea and also suggested that paths between stores be pretty and encourage people to walk.
Reeves suggested a way to approach turning around, "…eclectic, local, one-of-a-kind commercial places is to figure out how to improve what is already there. Not only improve, but fully embrace and leverage what is there to ratchet up economic performance and brand. Remember, it's always easiest to brand around unique and authentic assets, which these districts typically have in spades. Growing your improvement from within, locally and incrementally, instead of imposing it from without," helps improve an area, Reeves said in her July 2017 blog.
Lang, along with Stickel and LeSueur, are working on the idea of presenting books to locals and visitors that may help.
Interesting titles such as "Saturday in Canby," "A Biker's Guide," "Niche Markets" and the "Chamber's Best of Canby" might be a good method to bringing and keep visitors in the area.
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